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[applause] >> i am pleased to announce the city of albany have the honor of hosting the time warner cable c-span local content vehicle cities for. this program travels the country to capital cities, teaching the history of literary life of these communities. albany was chosen because we are a city of rich history and an interesting local literary community. ..
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>> find the best writers that we can and bring them to albany. it's like bringing the world to a particular place, and i don't think -- i can't think of any other organization, even some of the better known ones in major cities that that have such a rer flow of creative talent coming through and at no cost to the public. with our open door policy. so we bring the literary world to albany.
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so all these people whose names, faces and dates, events you see are people who have come from far and wide to read to the, to the general public here. and we've had somewhere, my most recent count now has gotten us up to at least 10 or maybe 11 nobel laureates across the years ranging from toni morrison who actually used to teach at albany to most recently a south african writer, and along the way people like the nigerian writer or the caribbean writer, derek walcott, or the irish poet, seamus haney. the names go on. but along the way, we archive all of the -- by video and
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audio -- all of the people who have come through, so we have left a footprint, they have left a foot print. and the institute was founded in 1983 but officially became the new york state writers' institute in 1984, and over the years we've had more than a thousand writers through. >> my sister was a rabid conservative who, actually, worked at w's first convention. and she couldn't get a room, so she ended up having to stay with me, and she brought a sign she was holding that said "w stands for women." [laughter] and i said, you can stay, but the sign has to go. [laughter] >> as a result, we have a very extensive archive of those writers, the readings, interviews with them, and i guess we like to think of
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ourselves as perhaps becoming the c-span of literature. i don't know, we'll see what happens with that. but we're about to roll out a, what is, in essence, a kind of virtual research library of all of these videos and audios that we've collected over the years. we're told by many people it's the most thorough going archive of contemporary writing that they know of in america. one of the things that helps is to be writers ourselves and to know what makes a writer comfortable, to respect a writer who has come for a visit and not treat that writer like some sort of circus side show. and to engage that person in conversation. we often like to say and joking among ourselves that we invite writers to dinner, and we just have these couple of public events on either side of the
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dinner or some gathering after one of those public events. what really happens is sitting down and having good conversation. it brings writers back. it's actually one of the things that people, i think, most appreciate about the writer's institute. writers will be respected as writers. i remember one writer saying, you know, you go to some literary readings, and you think, gosh, i'm so glad i got through that. let me, you know, catch the next plane out. you go to the writer's institute, and you find yourself saying, wow, that was good. i hope they invite me back. >> mom and dad were high school teachers, so we would take family vacations across the country. and instead of going to sea world and disneyland, we would visit historic sites. so by the time i turned 15, i had visited jefferson's monticello or truman's independence, got to read the
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grapes of wrath and visit steinbeck's home, was able to go to the reed willow cabin and red cloud, nebraska. so i think living on the road for family vacations three months in a trailer got me very interested in american history. >> literature comes -- with literature comes a very important thing; community. as one old friend used to say, a writer is someone who has readers. i always thought that was a good, simple line, a good, simple definition of what a writer is. but that effort of creating a community through an art form and enhancing that community, enhancing that general imagination makes having the writer's institute not only a worthwhile thing, but, i think, a very important thing. and what we've done, i think, across the years is we've not only exposed people to excellent artwork and writing in particular, but we've educated
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people to become more discriminating, to become more effective judges of what makes something good. and people read. people buy books. this is a very book-loving commitment, and i think the writer's institute has done a lot to, um, enhance that. even on some level create the environment in which people can explore literature especially. i think that there aren't enough programs like this around the country. i wish there were more. the literary community in albany is quite, quite rich, and we're in a kind of feedback loop with it. i don't think such an operation as the writer's institute could have been created in the first place without there being not only a strong group of writers
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writers -- find sort of an arc down from columbia county where a lot of new york city writers have weekend homes all the way up to saratoga and beyond. we have places like the writer's colony, writers' groups in hudson, new york, east and west into western massachusetts and west to syracuse. that's the audience sort of circumference that we work with. so when you go back and you find a general population quite proud of albany's connections to henry james and herman melville or even brett hart, a story writer, or, you know, just a little bit further east over to emily dickenson or a little bit
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further south to say hi to our old friend walt whitman or edith wharton. when we have this sense of the cultural heritage, it helps to amplify writers' own senses of, you know, being part of a larger story which i think is quite important for the whole sense of literary tradition. so there's this rich ground that's here already. and then the writer's institute comes in and becomes a beacon, it becomes a magnetic pull, it becomes a resource if nothing else, and it may make the rest of that sound too high highfalutin. but it becomes something that feeds the whole system. it gives fuel. it's fuel to the fire of people's imaginations. and it's very rewarding to see that, to encounter that, to see
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people in our writing workshops really catch fire with their own creativity because they've been given stuff to work with, they've been challenged by excellence that they've been able to see themselves. >> pulitzer prize-winning author william kennedy explores the political and cultural structure of albany in "oh, albany: improbable city." booktv spoke with mr. kennedy during our recent visit to albany with the help of our partner, thyme -- time warner cable. >> albany had a bad rap for a very long time because of the politics, for one thing, but also even way back, way back in the building of the capitol in the 1870s. stanford white, the great
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architect, was working on the capitol, h.h. richardson, a lot of other major architects. this would prove to be the most expensive building on the american continent, $25 million when it was declared finished in '97 by teddy roosevelt. and stanford white came here somewhere around 1872, and he said of all the terrible things i've got to spend another night in albany. he said, of all the one-horse towns, this is the absolute worst, and it was -- [inaudible] and the devil. [laughter] and i have to spend another night in albany. but, you know, that changed when the capitol went up. then suddenly albany became a tourist attraction.
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"o albany," which is kind of an impressionistic history of the city, was an ambitious project, 26 articles that covered the whole nick history of thety and -- city and every geographic neighborhood and a lot more. and it sold extremely well all over the country. it was an unusual development, and it's been selling ever since. it's a phenomenon that i don't quite understand, but -- and what i discovered was what a fantastic town this is. and i, you know, i had left albany and really never wanted to come back. you know, i'd come back for the family, but when the circumstances brought me back and then i got thrust into this situation, and so i started to
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see what an epic history this city has. it's the second oldest chartered city in the country in the 17th century, and it's a, it's been a, uni, it's got a history -- you know, it's got a history as long before the revolution as it has had since. it was a central meeting place for all those revolutionaries during the american revolution. washington was in town all the time, lafayette, phillip schuyler, one of the generals of the revolution, lived in albany, and so on. benjamin franklin and so on and so on and so on in the history of those years. and then in the early 19th century albany became the
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terminus of the erie canal. the way west. we'd always been a crossroads. we were the end of the river. henry hudson came up the river in 1607. he couldn't go any further than these rocky-bottomed shallows, and it was -- what was, where he dropped anchor turned out to be albany eventually. albany is like all of the great eastern cities in its formations. all of the european immigration, the dutch first and then the english and then the germans and then the irish, they came in fantastic numbers into new york, philadelphia, boston and so on
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and albany. banalny had so much -- albany had so many irish that they couldn't handle it during the famine. they closed our borders and would not let any more people come in, there were so many people coming into our city. eventually, the irish became dominant in the 19th century in numbers. in 1875 census i think it showed that one in six albanians was born in ireland. add to in the politics -- add to this the politics, and albany was always a political city. even in dutch colonization, it was a rebellious city. in the time of the english, likewise, and we had the revolution plotters and schemers and drafters of the constitution gathering in albany, franklin's
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banalny planned the union. and so it went through the years. one of the great politicians of all time in this city was the may i don't have of albany. he had great success from the time he was elected in 1942 until he died in the hospital of emphysema in 1983. eleven terms, uninterrupted. and he -- that's the longest-running mayor of any si city in the united states. and he was very proud of that achievement. he was part of this fantastic political machine which took power away from the republicans in 1921. and the key figure in that was an irishman, dan o'connell.
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there was four o'connell brothers, and there were a couple of corning brothers. they founded the new democratic party, and they took the city back from the republicans that had run it since 1899. and when they took it in 1921, they never let go. it's still in power. the succession has been on through the deaths of the two people who were the key perpetuators of the machine. dan o'connell died in 1977 and his son ten years later, and after that came tommy wales who was chosen as successor, and now
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jerry jennings succeeded tommy whalen, who died, who served for ten years and then quit. and then he, he was succeeded in a primary, and that was unheard of. because you never contravened the choices of the political boss, dan o'connell. he was an absolute, major power who did not share his power. and he, he ran a very tight ship. and he was the most incredible politician. james mcgregor burns said that -- the historian -- he said, you know, what we really should do is put this political machine fully as it exists right now into the smithsonian institution so we know what a
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boss machine is all about. and so, but, you know, after tommy whalen came into power, he changed everything. he opened up the city. it was no longer the boss machine. and jerry jennings is in the same, he's -- they've run an open city, and it's a, it's not at all the kind of tammany hall politics that ballny was -- albany was famous for. it was a notable target constantly, all through the 20th century, through the '80s, a target for reformers and especially republican reformers. when the governors got into power, thomas e. dewey tried to make his way to the white house on the backs of the albany
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politicians, and he failed. nelson rockefeller investigated the albany political machine, and e failed. he failed. and the machine went on and on and on. but it was, you know, who knows how many elections they stole, and the graph was extraordinary. but it was, it was the consolidation of power of the ethnic groups that had been coming into this country. they were all part of this mosaic that came to be this political machine. but by and large it was run by these two guys, an irishman and a connecticut yankee. it's the history of the city that's in the subtitle, fearless ethnics, political wizards, underrated scoundrels. we still have a lot of those.
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and, but it's a different town now. it's, i mean, it's no longer just albany. albany is, it's about five or six towns all put together. it's troy, it's schenectady, it's colony, it's saratoga. saratoga's only half an hour away. and these are great places to live and to see, and there's a lot to see in this town. town is coming back. it's also a great, a beautiful town. it's a really beautiful town. and a lot of people know it now. it doesn't have that reputation anymore that stanford white thought it had. >> albany, new york, is one of the oldest surviving settlements from the original 13 colonies and the longest continuously-chartered city in the united states.
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next, we hear from jack casey. his book tells the story of a mohawk woman born in 1656 who was recently named the first native american to enter saint hood. >> well, lily of the mohawks was a name that was given to a young woman, and ask she was baptized -- and she was baptized by the jesuits, and she took the name catherine which has anglicized from her culture into caty ri, and she's called lily of the mohawks because she's seen as blooming in a land from the bloodshed of the martyrs that preceded her. there were three or four martyrs in that land, in the mohawk valley about ten years before she was born. so she is a lily that has bloomed out of that sort of spiritual effort by the jesuits in the 17th century. so she escaped. and she went up near montreal.
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there was a mission up there, st. francis xavier mission, and she came to the anticipation of a priest named father claude -- [inaudible] and he was a sort of spiritual refugee from france. he was having his own spiritual dilemmas. and when he encountered her, he saw this incredible spirituality that was sort of, um, unexpressed, and he was able to sort of draw it out of her and allow her spirituality, her mysticism, her deep devotion to jesus christ to sort of help him heal his own doubts, his own spiritual doubts. and i think together there was a confluence there, this spiritual energy, can which i think is a love story and -- on a very high-refined level. it's sort of a divine love that, say, you or i wouldn't be able to appreciate. and they had this union, i
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suppose, where they sort of circled each other, and he observed her, and i think she observed him. when she died at the age of 24, it was april 17, 1680, immediately after her death her body was transfigured. and there are two written accounts which are in that book right there which were part of her cause that was over in the rome. now, she's already passed away, and she was only 24 years old, and she was a recluse. she only had a couple of female friends that knew her really well but for the priests. and he started this curing, and she started affecting, you know, substantial cures. women in childbirth were having breach birth and that sort of thing, and he would apply dirt from her grave or pieces of her clothing, and they'd burn some of her garments and made a tea out of it, and people would drink it. and these miracles kept up until about 1760 when the english came in and took canada back or took
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canada from the french. and then everything ceased. the jesuits were expelled. i think some of them remained, but they were really repressed. and they came back in the 1840s. and in the 1840s they rediscovered her, and they got some of the manuscripts about her out of the archives, and they rekindled this interest in her. and she started affecting more cures. now, the miracle that prompted her, prompted the pope to cannonnize her, i think in 2005-2006 there was a young boy, native american in the state of washington out near seattle, and he was playing basketball, and he fell down, and he hit his lip on the pedestal of the basketball hoop. and he was afflicted with the flesh-eating bacteria. and if you go online, you can either google her name or his name, it's jake finkbonner. they have pictures of him when he was in the throes of this malady.
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so jake finkbonner had survived. his surgeons were absolutely miraculous in the way they were able to graph the skin to cover what had been con consumed by the bacteria. and they attribute his survival, his cure, to her intersession. so that was verified through the vatican. they have a battery of scientists to verify that these are supernormal, paranormal, whatever, occurrences that can only come from above, and they verified that. and then the process is still somewhat slow. that was in '05 or '06 when he had that malady. and then they decided to canonize her last year. i think it was in december of 2011. and they put it forward on october 21, 2012 was the day of her canonization. so an authorized autobiography is where you take the facts and
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you try to tell a story out of it. you try to get the human psychology that we can respect because we are alive, and we have people that we've known, and we know our own inner hearts. and you try to make it real in a way that's sympathetic. and i don't mean sympathetic that it's, you know, soft-soaped, i mean sympathetic when you say that's true, and that's true in a deeper way than just the facts. so you try to tell the story in a way that's inductive to the reader, where the reader's on the edge of his or her seat saying, oh, my god, what would i have done in this situation? and any great movie that you've been to, any great book that you've read, that's really the magic, i think. so a novelized biography is something, it's a creation, it's an artistic creation, but i would say that other than just the bare facts as you saw in that book, anything that's written about her necessarily 300 years later has to have some degree of fiction to it and some
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degree of projection of whoever's writing it. so what i've tried to do is show her as much as a man can get into a woman's head or into a woman's heart, to show her going through these various struggles and surmounting a lot of these difficulties that she was able to surmount. in her life. what it did for her inside and how it brought her to this place that the whole catholic world reveres her. and explain that in such a way that it's told as a story so people will find it an enjoyable experience, an elevating experience to read it and encounter her. and i suppose, love her. >> on a recent visit to albany, new york, with the help of our partner, time warner cable, booktv explored the literary and cultural atmosphere of the city. albany, known as one of the most populace cities in the u.s. in
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1810, is home to several institutions of higher learning including the university at albany, state university of new york, the albany the law school which is the fourth oldest law school in the u.s. and the albany college of pharmacy and health sciences. >> we're in the university at albany library's department of special collections and archives, and we're the main repository on campus for collecting archival records, historical records and primary sources that are used by students, teachers, professors, scholars, journalists and many others to do historical research. [background sounds] >> the national death penalty archive was started here at the university at albany in 2001. it was a partnership between the around conservativist --
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archivists here and faculty members in the school of criminal justice. there is no national death penalty archive for documenting the fascinating history of capital punishment in the united states, so we set forth to establish the first death penalty archive. and what we do is we reach out to key organizations, significant individuals who are working either to abolish capital punishment or are proponents of capital punishment. and these individuals and organization form the ideas that frame the debate that goes on both in the legal arena and in the political arena over the death penalty. what i want to show you from the national death penalty archive today is a collection from a gentleman whose name is m. watt espy jr. he is recognized as the foremost historian of the death penalty in the united states. he began doing research on the death penalty in the late
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1960s while he was a traveling salesman. became sofas mated with crime and capital punishment, and at that time he was a proponent of the death penalty. but he became so fascinated that he quit his job as a traveling salesman and dedicated his life to documents every single person executed in the united states since the beginning of this country. when he started his work, there was estimates in the scholarly community that there were 5, maybe 6,000 people executed in the united states. after his three decades of work, he documented nearly 16,000 people executed. and he collected all of these primary sources. and can i'm going to show you some of these documents from the collection right now. so here is a picture of watt espy in the his home in alabama surrounded by the walls of his home that he had framed with people who were executed. and these are the kinds of
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things that he went to small city governments, county governments doing local research to document, his goal was to document every single person executed in this country. one of the persons that espy compiled information on was the youngest person to be executed in the united states in the 20th century. and if you think about the history of capital punishment, some themes draw out. one of the themes is the execution of children. this has been debated, and ideas and perspectives have been given on this. is it right to execute children? another theme is, is it proper to execute people who are mentally ill? another issue that is drawn out in the history of capital punishment is the factor of race in determining sentencing of capital punishment. it's been statistically proven
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by david ball bit and others that race is a mitigating factor in capital punishment sentencing. so these themes of race, of executing the young, executing the mentally ill are some of the themes that you can draw out of the collection. so here we have george stinney. he was 14 years old when he was convicted of killing an 11-year-old girl in south carolina in 1944. he was 14 years old. he was barely 95 pounds dripping wet. he was five foot tall, and he was swiftly convicted and executed within three months of this crime. now, when he was executed, he was put in an electric chair. of course, this was built for adults, so they could barely get the straps around his wrist and around his legs. he was so skinny and thin. but this speaks to the issue of
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do we want to execute in this country people who are children? and then he would create an index card on that individual person. so here we see george stinney, and this is espy, he created this card. talks about barely 14 years old, where he was from in south carolina, march 24, 1944, he encountered an 8-year-old and an 11-year-old girl who worked with george stinney's father, it seems like. and eventually, a fairly brutal crime was committed, and says here: speedily brought to trial for the death of ms. binnicker.
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he was convicted and sentenced to die, but he did not receive the death sentence. no appeal. clemency was denied by governor owen johnston who stated that, quote, the brutality of the crime negated any conversation of his youthfulness. after his conviction he admitted to the murders, and then goes down, stinney made no comment after entering the death chamber with a bible tucked under his arms, and the guards had difficulty strapping his slight form in the chair which had been designed for adults. at the tomb of his execution -- at the time of his execution, he was only 14 years, 5 months old. and then he cites where he got that information from. so the espy papers contain about 90 boxes of records, index cards on 16,000 people who were executed in the united states. the first person executed in the united states was 1608 in
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jamestown, virginia. george kimball was executed for espionage. [background sounds] >> his father was, managed a bank, so i don't know if this ledger had any connection to that. but he wrote down every single person once he discovered that they were executed. he started off with the ledger. it's much -- and so you'll see here he lists their name, their occupation, what city they came from, the crime, the age, the motive, the date, all the factual information about the person executed. so you'll see we're in south carolina here.
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i think if we turn here is south carolina, and here is george stinney. black, 14. it's interesting that he first calls george stinney child but then crosses that out and calls him a student. so the county where he was from, his crime, murder, and he adds here of 11-year-old white girl. and then his date of execution, june 16, 1944. so you can see here how meticulous espy was in his research. the ledger itself goes from about 1968 to about 1982. and then he went to the index card method. but it's clearly the most
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comprehensive collection on people executed in the united states from the very first person in 1608 til when he stopped working i think around 2005 he stopped collecting. he became swa ill. -- somewhat ill. i think one of the things that he would say is that he started off as a proponent of the death penalty, but as he did his research, as he realized that people who were innocent were executed, again, people who were children were executed, people who didn't have the mental capacity all the time to know what he, what they were doing in a crime. and one of the interesting things connected to the death penalty archive that does not -- is not necessarily a part of espy's research is the idea that some of the organizations whose records we have are, they are groups of murder victims and family members of murder victims who are against the death penalty. so that aspect of research is
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fascinating, that someone whose spouse or child was a victim of a grisly crime, gruesome crime, would then advocate not further death penalty. -- for the death penalty. these collections are ways that historians whether students or professional scholars or journalists, this is how people research and write history. they use primary source documents as evidence to prove their argument. they use primary sources to document the people and organizations that they're writing about. essentially, this is the raw material for historians and historical researchers to provide evidence for history. i always like to say that a historian is very similar to a lawyer. they have an argument, and they need to present that argument and present what, what their thesis is. and they need to provide evidence to back up their
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thesis. well, here at the archive and special collections we take care, and we manage all that evidence that historians have for research and writing purposes. >> given its proximity to the hudson river and erie canal,al albany began as a hub to railroad systems. the city serves as the capital of new york. >> my name is susan no so theny, i'm the owner of the book house at steve santa plaza in beautiful downtown troy. right now we're at the stuyvesant plaza store, and we have been here since 1975, and we sell books. real books. books that you can hold in your hand, crack open, cuddle up in a chair with, those kind of books. i started out in the publishing
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industry, i was a sales rep for simon and schuster and then for penguin -- then putnam, that was back in the '90s and '8 o -- '70s and '80s. and i sold books all over upstate new york and throughout demand. and after about ten years i decided i wanted to go to the other side of the counter and sell books. and so i went to work for the bookstore here in this plaza, and i eventually bought into the business and then bought the business out. and so i have been here since, as sole owner, since 1991. and it's been an up and down history since then. shortly after i purchased the store with a small business administration loan, it was barnes & noble and borders moved in, and the -- literally, the literary landscape of albany, new york, changed overnight as
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it did across the country. because that expansion into the area of the chains took about 11 other independent bookstores out of business. but the book house was left standing. and through the '90s it was, it was really a tough, competitive battle for our market share in this town, but we, we survived. part of the reason we survived was that the community came to our rescue. they said we don't want you to go away, we want you to survive, and we want to spend our money here at this store. and that's why we're here, because the community of albany has said they want us here. and they're willing to come in and pay a little bit more than they might pay somewhere else in order to keep us afloat.
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really the first and foremost thing that makes this place special is my staff people. and i have 22 booksellers, and of those 22 some of them have been with me for anywhere from 10-20 years. when we've -- we operate like a family, occasionally a disfunctional family, but we, we have a good, a really good relationship with each other, and we do all understand our mission here is to keep this store open. the store's just more than these four walls and the fact that we sell books. the store is us out in the community. each one of us, um, is -- gives time to the community on a personal basis. many of our staff people are volunteers with various reading readiness, literacy volunteers,
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aids council, the league of women voters, various, you know, like the women's club which tries to connect with the reading and literary commitment as well -- community as well. i could go on and on. our list is very, very long of good works that we do outside the store. and we have formed some real, solid connection with the late area community here -- literary community herement with not only the writing community, but with the reading community. we became very involved with bill kennedy's new york state writer's institute, so bringing famous authors and not-so-famous authors into town on a regular basis set this store apart as being -- and albany apart as being kind of a mecca for great writers.
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albany is -- they like their local authors, for sure. they like their richard russos and their russell banks and, you know, their peter goldens and their judy barnes. they do love their local authors, and they do support their local authors. but on the whole albany's a good, a very -- they're a very voracious group of readers. one of the real calling cards here is, um, is our staff picks section. and we're all voracious readers, and people come in, and they have a certain amount of money to spend, they have a certain amount of time to devote to reading, and they don't really want to spend a lot of time taking a gamble on a book that they might not like. so staff picks is a section today go to immediately to find books that they like that margie read or julia read or susan taylor red, and then they -- read, and then they come back and say i really like her
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selections, i want to read another book like the one i just read. susan taylor's the one to guide me. and so it's a, you know, our communication with our readers that come in here is very intimate. we know what they like, and they know what we like. it used to be that you could run an independent bookstore just on love, but you can't anymore. you have to be business-minded, first and foremost, because you're not going to get any of the rest of it unless you have a good mind for business. and it is, after all, a business. there were a lot of people out there that are toast because the, because of the digital transitions that we've been going through, because of e-books, because of the disintegration and
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reorganization of our industry. a lot of people do worry about whether or not we do have a future. and that's a legitimate question now, because with the merger of random house and penguin, that's a concern the many of us. that's -- to many of us. that's, for us booksellers, that's like a marriage between snow white and satan. penguin's publicly-stated philosophy is if these people fail, we will fail, because real books are here to stay. um, random house is a lot more draconian in their credit policies. penguin's very liberal in their credit policies. random house, who will be the majority shareholder in this merger, has not been is so kind
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to us. has not been so kind to us. so we worry that snow white and satan might not be such a good marriage for us. we don't know which one's going to win out. do they want to just take our business away from us and abandon us? or do they realize that they will fail if we fail? and so the new york publishing industry does have a big question to answer as they go through this merger process, is do you want your independent booksellers, your brick and mortar booksellers -- because i would even include barnes & noble in there too -- do you want them to survive, or do you just want to get bigger? we've always been at the
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forefront of anything that could help us from the technology world. we got the database together back in the early '80s and were one of the first to go onto a computer system. so once you got -- we wrapped our mind around that project, then we were able to make the store more profitable. but over the years, um, well, most recently is that in order to diversify we started our own digital book-on-demand business called the troy bookmakers where we make books. we literally physically make books. we take the manuscript, we format it into a book, we print the pages, we dip it in glue, we trim it up, slap a cover on it, and we make beautiful books. for our local authors that want to self-publish and also for some of the, you know, for some
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of the professors that want to do textbooks, for people that want to do family cookbook, you name it. but we stay, we've stayed right at the cutting edge of digital printing technology. and the other avenue that we've gone down to to stay on top of things is we've started our own publishing company called staff picks press. and the inspiration for it was, of course, staff picks. we knew that if we found a manuscript that we loved, we knew that we could sell it. so we just had to find the right author, the right manuscript, and so we're on to our fourth book now, and we don't have a, you know, we don't do 20 books a year because i would have a nervous breakdown if we did. [laughter] but we're making great, great progress. there you go, thank you. unfortunately because of, you
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know, the fact that we've lost so many independent bookstores over the past two decades -- there were originally about 5,000 of us back in the '90s, and now we're down to, you know, a couple thousand of us. so there are plenty communities that don't have an independent bookstore. and i think people do know it's a real loss to the community that they don't. and if they do have one, they need to treasure it and take care of it and patronize it. and if they don't have one, we all have web sites. [laughter] >> coverage of our recent trip to albany, new york, continues with sally friedman. her book, "dilemmas of representation," explores how local politics are affected by national factors. >> so the title of my book is
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"dilemmas of representation," and it's about a couple of things. the first thing is that it's about dilemmas of representation. i really wanted to show -- i was really interested in representation, and i wanted to show that when members of congress, quote, represent their districts, that representation can really mean a lot of different things to different congress people. it's not one size fits all, and i really wanted to show the choices members of congress were making, and i really wanted the reader to think about, so of all those choices, what style of representation does the reader think is best. that's one of the advantages of profiling, um, ten members of congress. they were only ten members of congress, but you really could get an in the-depth picture -- in-depth picture in terms of the local/national distinction, which i wrote down in a lot of different ways. so, you know, it's not as simple as that, but we found, um, a,
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that local politics still matteredded to an enormous extent. there's any number of stories in the book, um, highlighting local politics, constituency service, um, members of congress helping individuals, um, for me local was the kind of stuff that we're used to seeing, bringing projects to the district, um, doing constituency service. just interpersonally hanging out with constituents. being from the district and really highlighting your roots to your, um, to your constituents. that's the kind of stuff that congressman upchurch has really talked about. for me, it was about bringing discussions of national issues back home to the district, was, was bringing in national party
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help or national figures, was coming from outside of the district. so it was anything outside the district that was going on nationally. um, so i think in some ways politics hasn't changed. i think the local is there, i think the national is there too. lots of congress people talking about local issues as we know today, lots of congressmen, congress people being partisan, taking the stands of their parties, but just being involved in whatever's going on of the time. um, you know, be it the contract with america, then be it women's issues, be it, um, issues of minorities or immigration, just lots of national, um, examples. and that in a lot of ways local and national we're connected. um, obviously, the national
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politics was interesting to me, um, as it played out in local districts. um, i was also given, given that i was, i was surprised by how local things the still were. [laughter] i mean, i know it's a book that's supposed to talk about and highlight national politics. i was surprised that within that, um, how local politics still was. and the other thing that impressed me within, i mean, we talk a lot that members of congress are supposed to, quote, represent their constituency and try to show that, you know, what is representation -- what does representation mean? it means a lot of different things. but within that i guess i was impressed that, um, that members of congress have to put their -- really were able to put their own stamp on what they were doing. it mattered who a particular representative was. the representatives differed from their predecessors by, to
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some extent, which issues they focused on or how they dealt with their constituency. and a lot of that seemed to come from some version of just who they were or what they had done before they got to congress. and that impressed me. i think our dilemmas faced and choices faced by members of congress, you know, to different degrees and, you know, in different specifics, but all across the country, and i think a bunch of the findings about, you know, that constituencies are so different and that that influences a member's choices and that members of congress, um, their backgrounds really play a role in what they do. i think all of that is information that generalizes across the country. and i also think that, again, i only interviewed ten members of congress, but really getting a holistic perspective on those members really just adds so much
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depth to what you know. and, you know, it's a little corny, but you really appreciate all the different things these members, these means do. and i think at a time when members are getting or, you know, congress is getting really trashed and bashed and all that kind of stuff, then it's really heartening, i guess, to in some ways have written a book that makes you appreciate all the, the holistic picture of members of congress in their districts. so how did i research the book, most of it is based on public records sources. i took the perspective of i'm the average constituent, so i'm not going to have a lot of access to members. and so i looked at newspaper articles, internet sources, um, all kinds of public record documents. i interviewed a couple of them, but after a while i decided to stay away from, um, stay away
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from the interview perspective. and i really tried to take the view of i'm an outsider. if somebody wanted to find out about members of congress from the outside, obviously, i'm an overly interested outsider, so i'm not the typical outsider. but if somebody wanted to find out about members here, what would they have to do to do that. and just that there's an amazing amount of public record sources out there. you can find out just a lot and enough to, enough to really get a good picture, get a really reasonable picture of what a member of congress is doing. >> next, we take a tour of the uss slater with robert cross, port commissioner and author of "shepherds of the sea." the retired u.s. destroyer escort has been restored and is anchored at albany. mr. cross describes the role these boats played in winning the second world war.
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>> the shepherds of the sea. it's a book, basically, about destroyer escorts in world war ii and the men who sailed them. and destroyer escorts actually ended up being the most important, um, successful and valuable anti-submarine vessel in the united states fleet during world war ii. they're credited with sinking some 70 u-boats, 26 japanese submarines, and they fought in every major battle in the pacific theater. so they were a very significant force in world war ii. and what's even more remarkable to me is the people who were manning those boats. these are mostly teenagers with little or no experience on the water. um, in fact, some of them told me that the only thing they knew about boats is that the pointed end went first. so they were a remarkable group of teenagers. they were very courageous, and they were being led by their
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skippers, and their skippers were, um, ivy league college boys who were, you know, basically naval reserve. and they were more used to being aboard yachts than warships. they were sent out on these novel vessels, destroyer escorts, which were brand new and had never been tested before. the original idea was franklin roosevelt in 1940, he recommended that these vessels be built to deal with the continuing presence of the nazi u-boats in world war ii on the north public. and winston churchill warned roosevelt in america that, basically, something had to be done to stop hitler's u-boats in the war before, as he said it, america -- the sea would become america's cage. ..
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this ship is the u. s s slater, built in the tampa shipyard, 563 destroyer escorts built. 17 shipyards all across the country. it actually came late in the game like a lot of them, 1944. they did a few escort's back and forth across the atlantic. one interesting thing the slater did do, the elite nazi submarine, the only you boat captured by the americans in world war ii was captured by a destroyer escort. they got a treasure trove of confidential documents, half a ton from this you boat, one of the torpedoes was loaded on to the slater and brought back to america for study along with the all-important enigma machine.
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that was the code breaking machine and is actually was very useful because it came on the eve of the normandy invasion and they were able to actually take that off of the u 505 and was very helpful in breaking the german code. one of the sailors going through this you boat, had never been aboard a submarine at all let alone a german u boat. they were storming through, meanwhile the you boat is flooding. before the germans went overboard they opened up the valves, they did not want the americans to get to the confidential documents that they ended up getting, running through the passageways and goes into the captain's quarters and rips open the captain's desk and finds a block 10 and he thought this is a nice treasure.
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i will take this home. if you found something this was a top-secret operation, you were not able to keep any of it but he kept it anyway. he kept it and brought it home and years later it ran out of ink. contacted the company and said the you have a resale for this can and told him how old it was, where did you get it? i got it off of you 505 and if you send it to us, we will send you a new one which he didn't do. i interviewed 91, and could have been a lot more. you would never get your book written. the interesting thing to me is how patriotic, in those days
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after pearl harbor, everyone wanted to be in the military. they would lie about their age and forged birth certificates would do a variety of things just to get into the military. and very badly to get into the military for pearl harbor, had very bad eyes. he could not pass any tests to enter any branch of the service. he was a very avid reader and read popular science and noticed in addition to popular science, this experimental program called invisible eyes, a precursor to the contact lens, and a role in the program and his set of
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invisible eyes. he went to the recruiting station. he watch the navy and the navy had one line and go to the line, and the psychological exams. he watch the coast guard who had two lines and the first was for your physical exam, and the psychological exam. for your eye exam and figured that would give just enough time to slip the contact lens in his eye which he did and the recruiter said read the bottom line. he said how far down? as far as you can read. what are you reading? the bottom line. you are reading patent pending.
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you have the eyes of an eagle. that was just how so many people, so many sailors that i interviewed, they did it because of patriotism, because it is the right thing to do and, we sent them to see in a new and untested vessel that the navy fought additionally was a colossal waste of money. no warship had ever been manned by an african-american crew and the first warship to be managed by an african-american crew was the uss mason which was a destroyer escort. franklin roosevelt wanted to do something to end racial discrimination in the military and industry and he was a pragmatist and also a shrewd politician and he knew he had to be very careful otherwise he would alienate some of the southern political folks that just didn't have that same view. under roosevelt was a very strong proponent of equal rights
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and doing something to end racial discrimination so she continually prodded franklin roosevelt to do something so he decided that he would have one of these new destroyer escorts be manned by an african-american crew, white officers and african-american crew. they went off in the battle of the atlantic, did some heroic things and in fact they were recommended, the crew was recommended for a navy commendation by their white capt.. the navy didn't want these people in the first place and so they decided they were not going to give them the commendations so the commendation was not given to the surviving crew members until almost 50 years later. president clinton was the person to give them the award. if you look at this ship and think about it, over 200 people in it in a space of 35 feet wide
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and 200 feet--300 feet long, it is pretty tight accommodations and if you look at the bunker room you will see there really aren't enough bunks for all the people. it was a tough situation especially they would be off on the water for months at a time and they were smaller ships. on the north atlantic it could be a very difficult situation out there. i have some photographs that show the ships actually complete the eyes and crested and they would move around on the water with great difficulty but they survived. after the war some of them were scrapped. some of them were given to other countries as part of president truman's truman doctrine which was to provide these types of vessels and other military aid
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to other countries so this particular vessel went to greece and was their number one vessel for longtime and until about 1991 when the greek government decided they no longer needed this vessel within a very short period of time, the destroyer escort sailors association raised $300,000 to have it towed back to america. it was housed for a short time at the interested air and space museum in new york city. when they no longer had room for it they had to search for a new home but mayor jennings who is mayor of the city in albany felt this would be a wonderful attraction on the waterfront which he was trying to revitalize at the time and now it is the only destroyer escort still afloat in america in its original world war ii configuration. this is the kind of thing that allows people to see what it was like back then.
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what happened and how valiant the sailors were who served aboard these vessels. it is remarkable testimony to the bravery in those days. >> now more from albany, new york with the help of time warner cable, we look at one of the original talking book and braille libraries. >> new york state library goes back to 1818. one of the first state libraries in the nation. very proud and will long tradition of being able to share resources with everyone. the talking book and braille library is one of the cornerstones, sort of the diamond at the top in terms of staying. the commitment that new york
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makes is a commitment to everyone. if you take a moment to think about not being able to open that book and read it without some kind of intervention you get the idea this is an amazing circus that the government has created and we have been able to offer in new york for decades and decades. >> congress annotation. >> this is the free service that is offered through the national library service for the blind in the library of congress, citizens in all 50 states. the focus is to provide the chance for people to read who are disabled, people who can't hold a normal book or read a normal book. they may be blind or have other handicaps or disabilities that prevent them from opening a book and using a book as it is
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intended so we circulate about 850,000 different items, represents a huge, vast array of fiction, popular fiction, nonfiction, quotation books, you name it. most of those are either mailed to people, though our movement now is for digital books or for people to be able to download from their home computer or homan device, a full book or magazine to use at home. we serve individuals, 15,000 people are regularly part of our clientele and we serve people through about 3,000 institutions, nursing homes, hospitals, day care centers, other places where people in the
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community gather to meet and many of those places we have deposits of material and those might be talking books or books in braille but also where we get people connected to our service. the network we are part of includes all the states, every state in the union hasn't least one talking book library. and the design obviously is to be sure that everywhere this idea of equitable actress, equal access to materials is fulfilled. in new york, the point of entry to the talking book and braille library world is your local library and you and go into any public library, you can go into most school libraries and even academic libraries in new york and if you are in some way disabled and need help, being able to read the material or to hear or listen to print materials, those libraries make a connection to us and we make
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arrangements for people to have improved access. the service is one that is in significant transition, from books that used to be recorded pretty much on cape, the old cassette tape idea, using the latest in digital technology and we are very excited about this transition because it makes it faster, cheaper, more coefficients, to get more quality reading materials to people when they needed. this service is obviously designed for the government to be sure that people have equitable access to these materials and in the spirit of all public libraries in this country, we have over 15,000 libraries, more public libraries than mcdonald's, we have a chance with a service like this to be sure everyone has a chance to be well-informed citizens which obviously is most critical
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but also to enjoy the rewards of being able to read great novel that great literature and be part of the world renown. we call ourselves the talking book and rail library. we could call ourselves the talking book library because braille is not as popular as it used to be. braille is expensive to produce, uses a lot of paper. it is paper based technology. familiar quotations, a new edition came out in the past couple weeks. pretty amazing and pretty important reference tool. in braille, hundred seven volumes. 107 volumes. i don't know how many, 20 or 30 shills filled with the volumes of what most people know as one
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pretty chunky volume and in digital form a little sick about that bit. the economy around braille is pushing a lot of people to think about all the other forms, particularly the digital forms that are now available. many people still speak braille, use braille, create brail at the printers and spongees that are part of the braille language, we are seeing many younger leaders not use braille but rather use obviously all of the other audio and connective forms that there are in terms of communication. so many of the hand-held devices, many of them have speaking capabilities and audio capabilities and i am not going to make predictions about braille but we are seeing less
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and less of it. it is interesting as we talk about the transition of rail and the movement of braille to other forms one of our challenges is we have many transitions in the world of talking books. transition from braille to all the other forms. the transition from the old cassette tapes which is a technology that the national library service of the blind will stop completely at the beginning of next year. they won't be producing anything in those taped forms. that will be gone. in most people's personal lives the cassette tape has been gone for a few years. we are a little bit behind the curve there. obviously the movement then to digital form comes in several
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different forms but generally a bill magic stick and i am guessing that will be changing soon as well because things are getting smaller, more compartmentalized, cheaper to produce and faster to produce. we want to be sure people are print disabled get their books right then and there. we don't want people to have to wait. so we are transitioning along with the national library service for the blind, in all the areas of our collection. you see behind me all these. cases these additional materials but if you look around you see a lot of cases in green. those are often filled with cassette materials. that will be obsolete. our challenge at the federal level, the challenge is how many of these older materials do we
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need to reconfigure into new formats so they will be available for people? how long can we afford to operate in several different modes, sometimes particularly older people find themselves once they learn a particular technology or particular piece of machinery they stick with it because they understand it. we try to be sensitive to individual needs but at the same time our goal is to get as much material available to as many people at the lowest possible cost as quickly as we can. the structure of the talking book library and national service to the blind is a structure based on federal statutes that permits the national library service which is part of the library of
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congress to secure copyright support to enable them to create talking books from books that would otherwise be sold as audio books. so the federal government has devised an arranger and that is part of the world of copyright so people who create books -- the retain copyright but with these and other relationships enable the government to invest traditional resources to convert those books into talking books that are available through the talking book and braille library. in some cases, not always, it is the same book and it may even be the same narration that is used. in many cases the books that are
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part of the talking book and braille library are not available in the marketplace as audio books. even though a lot of our materials are very popular things, best sellers, the new york times best seller of course. there sometimes is a lag in terms of availability just because the market place dictates customers are out there first and those are the audio books that you might buy online or from your favorite book seller. talking books if you were to listen to any of the one that we have, they are extremely professionally done. the periodicals people can get as part of a talking book and braille library, the narrator their skills even though many of them might be volunteers, very skilled narrator's.
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if you love any kind of audio book you would be very attracted to this material. but the audience is limited. obviously most people would understand that if these were widely available and they are available for free, people who created them would not get the appropriate return on their creative energy. so we are very respectful and very thoughtful to make sure people qualify for this service but we go to great links to be sure -- >> geo the imparts his 1-of-a-kind was demand famously quirky humor, eliminating the settled truth at work in our lives. >> it is one of those remarkable services the government has designed and funded in order to do what our democracy needs to do and that is to be sure that everyone has that access to be
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well-informed citizens and to be able to fully participate in all of things that are in our democracy. >> for more information on this and other cities on the local content vehicles for go to >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. here is our prime time lineup for tonight. beginning at 7:00 eastern william silver and former federal reserve chairman paul volcker discuss paul volcker's life and career. at 9:00 julius kaplan describes circumnavigation. her book is round about the earth. at 10:00 p.m. eastern we conclude tonight's prime-time programming with our weekly afterwards program. dr. marty makary discusses health care reform with richard davis of memorial hospital. visit on the television schedule.
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>> with a month left in 2012 many replications of putting together the list of notable books. booktv features several lists focusing on nonfiction selections. nonfiction titles were included in foreign policy magazine's must read books. in breakout nation, in pursuit of the next economic miracles, the head of emerging markets at morgan stanley reports on growing economies and a shifting global economic power. senator rand paul of kentucky argues against what he deems far reaching government regulations in government believes, however day americans are being harassed, abused and imprisoned by the fed's. in the new religious intolerance:overcoming the politics of fear in an anxious age, a law and ethics professor at the university of chicago presents her thoughts how to promote religious freedom. novelist and poet, author of things fall apart, provides a firsthand account of the nigerian civil war from
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1967-1970 in there was a country. a personal history. in the world america made, robert keeton of the brookings institution opines on what the world would be like if america reduced its international role. for an extended list of links to various publications 2012 notable book selections visit booktv's website or our facebook page, >> you're watching c-span2, politics and public affairs weekdays featuring live coverage of the u.s. senate, weeknights watched the public policy events and every weekend the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get schedule that our web site and join the conversation on social media sites. >> what i discovered is jefferson appears to be a man of contradictions. but when you do something rather
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simple which is to put him on a time line and examine all the actions in an excellent chronological order, certain patterns emerge and things simultaneously get more complicated but a lot simpler. we are actually dealing with two jeffersons. there was the young jefferson who was a fiery radical emancipation test and there was the older jefferson who really embraced slavery. the young jefferson of the enough has not been studied all that much. as the member of the house of burgesses in a proposal to me than to the slaves in virginia. team made it on the sly shielding his identity using a relative to submit the bill which is a good thing because his relative was denounced as an enemy of his country and the bill was summarily dismissed. and later under his own name as the revolution approached jefferson floated more explicit plan which actually might have changed the course of our
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history if only the country would stop the slave trade, jefferson wrote, it could proceed quote back to the enfranchisement of the flames that we have, meaning they would become citizens. he wrote this in a document called the summary view of the rights of british america which he also submitted to the house of burgesses or to a committee thereof and it was summarily rejected. that led to his being chosen to write the declaration of independence where he denounced the slave trade in no uncertain terms. another clause that was struck, south carolina and georgia wouldn't abide any strictures on the slave trade. after the war, a strange thing began to happen to him. oddly enough france is the key to understanding the transformation in jefferson. when we think of france we think of sally and james hemming, french food, jefferson getting
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to know french architecture and wine but he went over there on very important national business, he was there as our trade representative. we were desperate for money and we owe a lot of money to the u.s. -- the u.s. the enormous debts to britain and our most important export was a slave raise crops. which brought in some $30 million a year. jefferson had one problem. the most important and influential friend he had in court among the french aristocrats were all abolitionists and they couldn't understand how we had fought a war for universal liberty without freeing the slaves and they put him under tremendous pressure and kept asking when is america going to free the slaves? he began making promises that emancipation was around a corner, imminent and waiting for opinions to write them, none of this was really true but it was in interests for h

Book TV
CSPAN December 8, 2012 12:00pm-1:30pm EST

Visits Albany, New York Education. (2012) BookTV in Albany, NY. New. (CC)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Albany 47, New York 17, Us 15, America 11, United States 8, U.s. 6, South Carolina 5, Jefferson 4, George Stinney 4, Dan O'connell 3, Slater 3, University 3, Franklin Roosevelt 3, Saratoga 3, Penguin 3, Navy 2, The Navy 2, The City 2, Jerry Jennings 2, Truman 2
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